In the face of self-alienation and changing ecological structures, human beings must face recent transformation in the way species interact, as well as the unexpected yet profound effects this cultivates. A desire for survival and societal development has led humans to overtax the natural resources at their disposal, leading to various pollution problems and negative environmental consequences. “Route of the Future” is a mobile apocalypse born from Root Researcher Qiu Anxiong’s vision of the future. He imagines our living environment one hundred years from now in order to tackle ethical issues related to human consciousness and behavior.
Revolving around the collision between terrestrial and aquatic systems, Qiu’s narrative conceives that between global warming, melting glaciers, and rising sea levels many coastal cities will gradually sink. In the future, Shanghai will become a city under water, forcing land and water species to migrate and possibly even disappear. The work simulates an ordinary day in the near distant future, in which a bus or underwater capsule takes a group of sightseers on a pilgrimage to see civilizations past. When witnessing the profound scenery through the car windows, they pay tribute to the lost historical monuments and ruins of Shanghai.
“Route of the Future” is a communal art project that originates from within the city’s public transportation system. Interactive video technology will be installed in a local Shanghai bus and transparent screens will be attached to the vehicle’s windows, presenting an imaginary underwater world. Overlapping and mingling with the street just beyond, the translucent screens blur the boundaries between the virtual and real world, as if creating a future from another dimension. This visceral submersion intends to convey concern about environmental and ecological issues, which the artist hopes will ultimately encourage people to think and act more conscientiously. This moving installation is a nod to Ken Liu’s fictional text “Shanghai in 48 Hours, a Weekend Itinerary for International Visitors by Roaming Planets Guides, 2116.”
Qiu Anxiong (1972, Sichuan) is currently a professor in he Design School at the East China Normal University. His most notable works include “New Book of Mountain and Sea,” “Republican Era Landscape,” the video installation “For the Forgotten Memory.” In 2007 he founded the Museum of Unknown. His works have participated in the Sao Paulo Biennale, the Shanghai Biennale, the Guangzhou Triennial (Now the Asia Biennale), the Sydney Biennale and the Asia-Pacific Triennial.